|Tara Patten and life size photo of Ed|
In 1913, twenty-six year old Ed was jilted by his 16-year old fiancé, Agnes Scuffs, his “sweet sixteen”. On the day before the wedding, she said he was too old for her. Devastated and ashamed, Ed quickly left Latvia and headed to America where he worked in Canada, California, and Texas as a laborer in lumber camps and on cattle drives. Along the way Ed contracted Tuberculosis. To get relief for his ailing lungs, Ed made his way to Florida in 1920. He had been told the climate would give him a fighting chance to recover from what was at that time a nearly always fatal disease.
Ed was on the verge of dying when Ruben Moser, a wealthy landowner and property developer in Florida City, found Ed lying in a heap on the side of the road. Moser picked him up, put him in the back of his car and took him home. Over the next few weeks, Moser’s wife, Frances, and daughter, Lois, helped to nurse Ed back to health in a nearly miraculous recovery.
Moser sold Ed a one acre piece of land in Florida City, where Ed began to construct his first “Rock Gate” as he called it. Using hand-crafted primitive tools made from scrap auto parts, Leedskalnin, who was five feet tall (the size of a ten year old boy), never weighed more than around 100 pounds, and always worked alone in secrecy during the dark hours of the night.
|Outside wall and admission stone|
In 1925, Ed determined he needed a location with more privacy and space. He found a site in Homestead 10 miles up the road on US1. Ed deconstructed his sculpture garden and moved his massive stone structures on truck trailers he designed himself, which were then hauled by a neighbor’s tractor to Homestead. That is the only time Ed ever accepted help from anyone. Alone in the dark, Ed loaded and unloaded the massive fragile sculptures, making sure no one was watching.
|3 ton swivel stone gate|
|Stone bedroom and obelisk|
|Florida shaped table|
|Polaris telescope permanently pointing at the North Star|
|Hand dug well and only source of water|
|2 story tower|
|View of garden from Ed's room in tower|
|Eds swinging chair in the tower|
|Eds first rocking chair|
|Obelisk towers over garden|
|Tara Patten and Patricia Paredes|
My daughter Tara and I visited Coral Castle on May 16, 2014. Our expert museum guide, Patricia Paredes, (featured in the videos) was as enthusiastic about showing us around as we were to see the place. We are very grateful for all the time she gave us and in helping us to understand the magic and mysteries surrounding Ed Leedskalnin and his magnificent creations.
Coral Castle Museum is located at 28655 South Dixie Highway, Homestead, Florida 33033. Phone: 305-248-6345
This piece, written by Pat, was originally posted on our website on May 24, 2014.